Utah Jazz: Top free agents to target if Gordon Hayward leaves

Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images) /
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WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 12: Otto Porter Jr.
WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 12: Otto Porter Jr. /

Otto Porter Jr., Washington Wizards (RFA)

If Gordon Hayward were to leave in free agency and the Jazz could bring in anyone, Otto Porter would be my first choice to replace him.

Hayward is a better player at this point in his career, but Otto Porter is younger at age 24, and just had a breakout season. Similar to Hayward, he has increased his scoring average in every year of his career (2.1, 6.0, 11.6, 13.4).

Last season, he scored 13.4 points, grabbed 6.4 rebounds and shot 43.4 percent from three. He was one of the best spot up three-point shooters in the league, which fits well with Utah’s offense. At 129.1, Porters offensive rating was the second best in the league last season.

On top of that, he plays terrific defense. He average 1.5 steals a game and can defend four positions on the floor due to his length and athleticism.

The question with Porter is whether he can keep his high efficiency on offense while taking on more of an offensive load. He has been playing as the third or fourth option in Washington, and Utah would need him to be the first or second option next to Rodney Hood.

Still, I think Porter would absolutely be Utah’s best long-term replacement to Hayward based on his current age and remaining upside.

The issue is that he is a restricted free agent, which means Washington can match any offer that is made to him. It will be difficult for Washington to match a max contract offer with both Wall and Beal already signed to max contracts, but they can go over the cap to re-sign him if needed.